How are you at 17

new York: "Anna, how are you doing?"

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Every morning I wonder how much my neighbors see in the house across from me. Because my prospect of her has never been more vivid. I don't just see them smoking on the fire escape or walking from one roof terrace to another. I also see which series they watch and whether they drink wine or beer.

Coronavirus: New York

New York City: The city that can no longer sleep

New York City: Displaced People

I'm in New York, still one of the epicentres of the corona pandemic. The basketball hoops in the parks are unscrewed, lines, circles and crosses mark the minimum distance to be observed, people are sitting in white circles on a Brooklyn meadow. However, you should only go out when necessary, with face masks and if possible, then directly into the few open shops such as supermarkets. Life is now concentrated in apartments and WhatsApp chats.

"How are you? I heard that ..." This is how my friends' messages and every video call with my family have started for three months. At first they had the increasing corona cases in mind, for a few days they have also been asking about the riots against police violence. I talk macabre on the phone with the stories that are currently shocking everyone. I haven't been to the protests myself, but the city is visibly suffering. For example, I recently went to the post office and walked almost all the way over broken glass from bus stops and shops that didn't board up their windows. Helicopters are constantly circling over the city, after 8 p.m. we are no longer supposed to leave our apartments. And all after weeks of lockdown. Almost everyone in New York knows someone who has had or has the virus. I can't say much more about it, except: It's terrible. It is terrible when the sick do not get the care they need. It's horrible how my friends are losing their jobs and pouring candles for the impromptu online store to pay their rent.

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Fortunately, I don't have these problems. I still have enough assignments to pay my rent in New York's Lower East Side. I am healthy and have health insurance. But I share moments of loneliness with many other people in this city. Moments when we miss friends and try to be productive between the TV and the sofa. With the difference that I've been experiencing this everyday life as a self-employed person for two years. And I have to say: Since I'm no longer alone with being alone, I've been feeling better.

Days when "Receipt?", "No thanks" is the only conversation of the day

As a self-employed person, I got to know loneliness as soon as I started my career, but I interpreted it as an initial difficulty. Before New York I lived as a freelance journalist in Tel Aviv and I felt pretty bad at first. No office, no colleagues, a new country, so not even friends. Voice messages were company, the rest of the conversations took place in my own head while I watched the vacuum cleaner robot as a distraction. Interviews were social luxury, journalistic freelance reality was e-mails and phone calls, colleagues were profile pictures in the Slack channel, communication consisted of "Okay, sounds good, no, we already had a good idea, thank you, bye". No question about it: I hated this home office. But knowing that I chose it myself, I thought I had to love it.

The highlight was suddenly not the city, the bar or the people, but the cooking, the new release on Netflix, the phone call with the parents. I didn't dare to address my loneliness because I was in a great city by the sea for my friends. Why should I feel bad there? The order in the home office replacement café was often the only conversation of the day, along with "No, thank you" on the receipt question in the supermarket. I lost myself in the freelance loneliness and it took months to find happiness and prospects in it.

Suddenly there is room for loneliness, even in New York, which is now asleep

When I came to New York in January and the first exit restrictions began in March due to Corona, I knew that not much would change for me - if I stayed healthy. Because I was in a new country again, this time with more assignments, but that didn't mean more conversations or having to go out. And yet something changed: the understanding of loneliness. Suddenly there was room for her, even in New York, which suddenly fell asleep.